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JOSEPH BLAIR v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (12/12/79)

decided: December 12, 1979.

JOSEPH BLAIR, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA BOARD OF PROBATION AND PAROLE, RESPONDENT



Original jurisdiction in case of Joseph Blair v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole.

COUNSEL

Joseph Blair, petitioner, for himself.

Robert A. Greevy, Assistant Attorney General, with him Edward G. Biester, Jr., Attorney General, for respondent.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers, Blatt, DiSalle, Craig and MacPhail. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 47 Pa. Commw. Page 637]

Joseph Blair in this petition for review alleges that the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (Board) did not hold a final revocation hearing within a "reasonable time." To the Board's answer and Chairman's Certificate, Blair responded with a motion for summary judgment. The Board filed a cross-motion for summary judgment with the supporting affidavit of Blair's Institutional Parole Supervisor. No opposing affidavit was filed.

Blair was convicted and sentenced in Philadelphia County on January 3, 1974, to a two to eight year

[ 47 Pa. Commw. Page 638]

    term for voluntary manslaughter. After parole on January 4, 1977, he was re-arrested on April 5, charged with murder, criminal attempt murder, aggravated assault, possession of an instrument of crime (two counts), and possession of an offensive weapon (two counts). On April 7, 1977, a parole violation warrant was filed based on the new criminal charges and technical parole violations. The Board held a preliminary detention hearing with Blair and counsel present. On May 12, 1977, the Board ordered that Blair be detained pending disposition of criminal charges, and a violation hearing be immediately scheduled. On July 11, 1977, a signed waiver of a full board hearing was made. With notice of charges and hearing forwarded, the violation hearing scheduled for August 2, 1977, was continued at the written request of Blair and counsel until after trial. On December 20, 1977, he was convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated assault, and possession of an instrument of crime, but sentencing was deferred.

Blair and counsel were notified that the continued hearing was to be promptly scheduled. In preparation for the hearing, Petitioner was interviewed on February 21, 1978, by the Institutional Parole Supervisor. Blair again requested a continuance of the hearing until after sentencing. This oral request for continuance is central to the controversy. The day after Blair's interview with the Parole Supervisor, public defender asserted that Blair never sought another continuance.

The full Board violation and revocation hearing was held on November 17, 1978 with counsel present. Blair was sentenced on November 21st to life imprisonment for murder, a concurrent term of two and one-half years to five years for possession of an instrument of crime, and a term of five to ten years for aggravated assault, to run consecutively with the life

[ 47 Pa. Commw. Page 639]

    sentence. He was received on November 27, 1978 at the State Correctional Institute at Graterford. On February 27, 1979, the parole board decided to "Recommit as a Convicted Parole Violator to serve unexpired term. Reasons: Prior conviction for murder or homicide. Weapon -- offense. Assault in offense. Helpless victim." As a convicted parole violator, ...


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